Before you get carried away, I’m not a cold-hearted, uncaring, mean, ogre. Let me elaborate on what exactly I don’t care about. I wanted to share with you all my personal social media pet peeve! My biggest social media pet peeve is when my friends post Facebook statuses once, or more times a day and say nothing of substance. Have you ever had a friend who updates their Facebook status at least once a day, if not more? Chances are that your answer was yes, (but if your answer was no can we swap friends), the reason I guessed yes was because this has become an accepted Facebook norm. I find these constant updates to be annoying for a couple of reasons .
First and foremost incessant updates are frustrating based on the medium. On facebook you can post whatever and as much of it as you want, unlike on restricted platforms such as twitter where characters are limited. Following that logic, it would reason that one should post everything they want to share at once instead of constant little “updates” throughout the day. I believe Facebook is not as much personal as it is public in two ways, to your friends and the world. It is not so much of a personal space as one shared space to interact with friends. I personally believe Facebook is intended more as more of a collaborative space, where we collaborate by posting on friends walls and sharing stuff we want them to interact with. That being said, one of the most important things to remember on Facebook, and anywhere online is that whatever you post is public. There are many different privacy options available, but regardless of privacy settings, once something is online it will always be accessible.
This is increasingly problematic because our friend circles online are constantly and rapidly expanding. It seems as though the current trend is to add everyone and anyone as friends. In their article “Sociality Through Social Network Sites”, Nicole Ellison and Danah Boyd describe how “the friends list contributes to the lowering of barriers between individuals”. This is an incredible phenomenon, which essentially means that social media allows us to break down the barriers in forming new interpersonal connections. You do not really need to know someone to connect and become “friends” with them. When I studied abroad in Florence this past semester I friended the really cool group of germans we ate dinner with in the tents at spring fest in Munich. Were we really truly friends? The answer is simple, NO we were not, however, I felt obligated to accept their friend requests to be gracious for their hospitality and to avoid insulting them.
This is also perfect example of how social media is lowering the geographical barriers as Mike Wesch details in his lecture, An anthropological introduction to YouTube. You can feel present and connected to the lives of others, friends or not, no matter where you are in the technologically developed world. This connectedness though can be somewhat of a double-edged sword at times as Wesch also detailed in a concept known as context collapse. When you have people on your friends list that you’re not really friends with, or your Grandmother just added you on Facebook, what you can and should post instantly changes.
So let’s talk a little more about dissatisfaction with the content majority of Facebook statuses. I’ll be the first to admit I’m particularly picky when it comes to what I believe is ideal status in terms of volume and content. While these two elements of a facebook status are each distinct and could very well be dealt with seperatly, I have found that they do indeed work hand in hand and are both key elements to my “social media pet peeve”.
The acceptable amount of status updates in any given amount of time that I would consider unobtrusive or reasonable is highly variable depending on content. For example, if you’re a person who is passionate and opinionated about many topics, particularly politics or music and want to share articles and videos with your comments go ahead! Though everyone might not like to read your posts, if they do from time to time, at least their interesting or thought provoking.
Unfortunately, in the many statuses on my Facebook news feed I find that friends post mostly trivial details or complain about their life. I’m sorry, but I just don’t care to know that you’re getting coffee, your salad you made for lunch was yummy, you’re going to the bank later or any other similar details of your life. Can’t you just let us assume you made good use of your day? The worst statuses of all though I think are the ones where people whine and complain. The internet is already a negative space, why do we need to contribute to that without merit?
Now I’m not looking to psychoanalyze my friends or myself but let’s examine my pet peeves in the nonvirtual world. When people post constant updates on every activity, it would be like a friend texting you after they complete every task of their day, which I hope never happens to you in real life! And have you ever gotten annoyed when a friend has told you about some annoying project for work or a fight with they’re boyfriend but you know they don’t really need support or advice, they just want pity? Well whiny Facebook statuses are essentially the same, only worse because as Judith Donath describes online posts are conscious and thoughtful you don’t just write a status, you craft it.
So let’s all make an effort to clean up our statuses!
1. Limit your number of statuses per day a couple at the most, hopefully less
2. Let’s keep it positive, and thoughtful!
I promise your Facebook friends will thank you!